Asthma UK: Top 10 triggers of DEADLY asthma attacks – and how to avoid them

Asthma is a common lung condition that causes breathing difficulties, according to the NHS.

Symptoms include sporadic wheezing, breathlessness, coughing, and feeling tight-chested.

The condition can lead to deadly asthma attacks – where patients’ symptoms get worse, and they’re too breathless to speak, eat or sleep.

Charity Asthma UK urges patients to be aware of their triggers, as it revealed the top 10 causes of asthma attacks in the country.

Colds and flu are the most common triggers of asthma attack, an Asthma UK survey revealed.

More than four out of every five patients experience worse symptoms when they’ve been infected by a virus.

Dust, air pollution and pollen are also common triggers.

Other causes of asthma attacks include perfumes, mould and paint fumes, the survey found.

“This research is vital as not every person with asthma knows what their triggers are, and some people have more than one trigger,” said Asthma UK’s Clinical Lead and practising GP, Dr Andy Whittamore.

“We’re encouraging everyone with the condition to keep a diary of their daily activities and asthma symptoms to help them spot any patterns.

“Once people know their triggers, they can prepare for them, whether that’s avoiding cigarette smoke or pollution hotspots.

“We’d also encourage people with asthma to always take their preventer medicine as prescribed as it builds up protection in their airways over time, making them less likely to have an asthma attack, and take their blue reliever inhaler if they have asthma symptoms.

“They should also follow the advice in their written asthma action plan and attend their yearly asthma review.

“People can call Asthma UK’s nurses to get more information on 0300 222 5800 or visit”

Many triggers are difficult to avoid, so it’s always best to take your preventer inhaler.

But, Asthma UK has also issued advice on how to prevent asthma attacks from the top 10 most common triggers:

Colds and flu – Wash your hands regularly or use antiviral hand gel, and consider a flu jab.

Dust – There’s not a lot you can do to make a useful difference to the number of dust mites in your home. Asthma UK advises taking your medicines as prescribed to help address this.

Air pollution – Try to avoid pollution hotspots like junctions, bus stations and car parks on high pollution days.  

Pollen – Keep doors and windows closed when you’re indoors. Change your clothes and have a shower when you’ve been outside. Don’t cut the grass and avoid walking in grassy areas.

Exercise – Warm up and warm down for 10-15 minutes before and after exercising.

Cigarette smoke – If you live with a smoker, ask them to smoke outside, well away from the door so the smoke doesn’t drift into the house.

Perfumes, aerosols and paint fumes – If you can’t avoid these, try and open windows and have regular access to fresh air.

Stress – Take a step back from things to relax and to feel more in control, so you’re able to deal with the situation better when you go back to it.

Mould and fungi – Don’t try to remove the mould by yourself. Ideally, talk to your local council’s environmental health agency for advice on the best way to remove the mould.

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